Success stories

Print edition : February 16, 2018

The team responsible for reviving Periya Kulam near Manikkapuram village. (From left) S. Naveen Kumar, K. Loganathan, D. Karuppusamy, A.C. Velusamy, U.P. Muthusamy, V. Karthick and E. Karthick. Photo: S. Siva Saravanan

AMIDST a depressing scenario in Tiruppur, Erode and Karur districts, where big ponds and lakes and irrigation canals are dry, check dams have gone to seed, and the Public Works Department (PWD) does not store water in reservoirs and check dams as a fallout of the dyeing units discharging hazardous effluents into the Noyyal, a group of youths are behind a success story in Manikkapuram village. The youths, led by V. Karthick, have desilted a lake called Periya Kulam and deepened and strengthened its bund at a cost of Rs.40 lakh. Most of the funds came from a private trust called Sripuram Trust. Farmers readily lent their shoulders to the youths in this massive effort, which lasted a year and a half. It required several months of hard work to cut down the scrub vegetation on the lakebed and uproot the mesquite trees. A small shrine for the folk deity Eri Muniappan, located on the bund, was cleaned and given a fresh coat of paint.

Today, Periya Kulam, which had been dry for the past 30 years, is brimming with water. On October 22, 2017, S. Naveen Kumar and K. Loganathan were busy planting palmyra, jamun and pungai ( Pongamia pinnata) seedlings on the wide lake bund. Some distance away were two textile dyeing units which had closed down.

“From Kasipalayam in Tiruppur town to Periya Kulam runs the Raja Vaikaal over a distance of 5 km. We desilted the canal and removed the encroachments on its banks with police help,” says Karthick. When it rained in September for several days, the rainwater flowed through Raja Vaikaal into Periya Kulam. “So today, the lake is 80 per cent full. It has a water spread of 120 acres. The water can irrigate several hundreds of acres,” Karthick said. Effluents did flow into Periya Kulam once for about 12 hours, he said.

The palmyra seedlings that Naveen Kumar and Loganathan planted in 2016 have sprouted. They had planted about a thousand palmyra seedlings.

A.C. Velusamy, a farmer from Arugampalayam, said: “Till 1987, we used to cultivate turmeric here. After 1988, nothing grew here [because of the effluents discharged by the dyeing industries]. There is hope now for Manikkapuram village.”

Siruthuli, headed by its managing trustee, Vanitha Mohan, has desilted and restored 12 tanks in the Noyyal basin of Coimbatore district. Siruthuli’s motto is “Clean Kovai, Green Kovai” (Kovai is the shortened form in Tamil for Coimbatore). There are 24 tanks (water bodies) in Coimbatore district. According to K. Mylswami, its chief operating officer, of these 24, eight, situated west of Coimbatore, had good water, eight tanks located within Coimbatore city had polluted water because of the sewage let into them and garbage thrown in, and eight, situated east of Coimbatore, had highly polluted water. Siruthuli recently desilted and restored 12 tanks in Coimbatore district. Five of them had good water, Mylswami said.

T.S. Subramanian

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